The Del Norte Warriors are headed back to the North Coast Section championship game after another dominating performance on Friday night, as they rolled over Miramonte 42-13 in Crescent City.
The win sets up a Division-5 championship showdown against No. 1 seed San Marin next weekend after the Mustangs got the better of St. Bernard’s in the other semifinal.
“It’s nice we get to play for a championship, which was our goal all along,” Del Norte head coach Nick White said.
It was business as usual for the Warriors as the visitors had no answer for the home team’s relentless running game, which averaged an incredible 17 yards a run in the first half.
After racking up 299 yards on the ground in the first half of last weekend’s quarterfinal win over Archie Williams, the Warriors were even better on Friday, rushing for 363 yards on just 21 carries over the opening two quarters.
RJ Loftin ran for 151 yards and two TDs in the first half alone, while teammate Caleb Dodson added 126 yards on 12 first-half carries and also found the end zone twice before halftime.
The Warriors offense scored three first-quarter touchdowns to lead 21-7 early and added two more second-quarter TDs to all but end the game as a contest before the interval.
Dodson scored on runs of four and 29 yards on the team’s opening two drives of the game, and Loftin followed that with TD runs of 75 and 39 yards.
Giancarlo Desolenni rounded out a brilliant performance by the Del Norte running backs, rushing for 85 yards on five carries before halftime, and closing out the first-half scoring on a 57-yard run to give the home team a 34-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
The visitors responded with a second touchdown before halftime, but it did little to affect the flow of the game and they had problems all night against a dominating Del Norte defense, which was every bit as impressive as the offense and held a very dangerous Miramonte pass attack in check.
“The kids really stepped up to the challenge,” White said. “Their passing offense, that’s the best passing offense in our section, and I think defensively (being able to stop them) that was the biggest thing.”
Loftin added a third TD in the third quarter on a 31-yard run to close out the scoring.
With the win, the Warriors improve to 10-1 on the season.
They will play for a second straight NCS championship after winning the Division-5 bracket two years ago, the last time the NCS held playoffs.
“It’s what we’ve been preparing for all season,” White said. “It just shows the preparation and hard work that our kids put in, and it’s a testament to our coaching staff, who do a great job.
“We’re happy to be in this situation and excited to play for a championship.”